'Time is precious': QuickBooks helps small business owners get it back

How QuickBooks Time tracking and QuickBooks Payroll grow with small businesses and turn business owners into payroll experts.

Red Aspen isn’t your typical cosmetics company, and its founders aren’t your typical business owners.

“One of the things we’ve tried to do is rip up the beauty playbook. We’ve come out with affordable products that add value to your beauty routine. But you don’t have to be a professional makeup artist to wear our products,” says Jesse McKinney, co-owner of Red Aspen.

Jesse is just one of the three powerhouse women who make up the leading force behind the 2-year-old beauty supply company. She’s proud of her team’s success and the community that’s made them a strong player in an industry marked by names like Mary Kay and ColourPop.

“We bootstrapped every step of the way,” she says, from starting in her sister’s “teeny-tiny apartment” to moving into a larger facility just outside Boise, Idaho. “People here have just been so incredibly supportive and opened their arms to us. And I feel like Boise is one of those communities that wants you. They see you, and they want you to succeed.”

Positivity and support might be infectious because Red Aspen’s customers have caught the bug. Six products launched in October 2017 have grown into hundreds, thanks to Red Aspen’s expanding team of brand ambassadors. People who love their products enough to share them with their friends via social media have boosted Red Aspen’s popularity and sales. What once was an in-home business supported by three women has now grown to a company with 13 people on the payroll. And naturally, that growth has presented new opportunities and challenges.

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‘There was a lot I didn’t know’: When milestones and business needs change

Jesse wasn’t the first business owner to balk at hiring her first employee, and she won’t be the last.

“We hired two people,” she says, thinking back to her first hiring experience. “It was so scary because, up to that point, it was just my partners and me.”

Up until then, Jesse was aware that if the business tanked, no one else would be impacted. “But now someone else was relying on us,” says Jesse.

Now, Red Aspen is home to 13 employees. “It doesn’t get easier, necessarily,” she says. “But you just have to have confidence that the people you’re bringing on are talented and going to grow the business.”

Since that first hiring experience, Jesse has reflected on the process. “There was a lot I didn’t know,” she says. “Having someone rely on you for their paycheck … that was an eye-opening experience. I’d also never run payroll before. I didn’t know anything about payroll taxes or unemployment. It was something I had to figure out.”

For Jesse, it wasn’t the learning curve that challenged her most—it was time. Like many entrepreneurs, Jesse’s time is her most valuable resource. And she wasn’t about to spend it on learning how to reinvent the payroll wheel. So she got QuickBooks.

“As a business owner, you don’t have a lot of time,” she says. “It was great to find that QuickBooks could help me with all of these things and do it flawlessly. Because it’s scary to know that what you’re doing impacts not only the business but also impacts your employees and your employees’ taxes. It impacts everything.”

“It was great to find that QuickBooks could help me with all of these things and do it flawlessly.”

—Jesse McKinney, co-owner of Red Aspen

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‘I hit a breaking point’: How a time tracking integration saved the day

Red Aspen was an early adopter of QuickBooks, but while the software solved a lot of problems, one struggle still remained: payroll.

“We’d gone from one employee to five, I think,” says Jesse. “That’s when I hit a breaking point.”

At the time, Jesse was using an Excel spreadsheet to track her employees’ hours. But, she says, no one was actually using it. Employees would forget to write in their hours, plan to record them the next day, and forget again.

“I was constantly following up with people, trying to figure out their times,” Jesse explains. “And I was finally like, ‘I give up. Call it. I’m good.’ And so we got QuickBooks Time. And I probably cut the time it takes me to run payroll in half.”

Conveniently, QuickBooks Time and QuickBooks Payroll go hand in hand, so business owners like Jesse can get back to the work they love.

“QuickBooks Time and QuickBooks have given me more time—a lot more time,” Jesse says. “What used to take me half a day now probably only takes me an hour, an hour and a half. Time is precious, and I think that QuickBooks Time and QuickBooks gave me more time.”

But QuickBooks’ payroll and time tracking tools aren’t just giving Jesse more time back in her day. Favorite features like the Who’s Working window have empowered a new level of trust between her and her employees.

“I think we have an incredibly trustworthy team. And I’d never question their integrity,” she says. “But I think that QuickBooks Time backs up their integrity. If they say they’re on the clock, I can see that they’re here. I know what they’re doing. And I never questioned it before, but I don’t have to ever question it now.”

Being able to track time from the QuickBooks Time mobile app has also saved employees time. “They love it,” Jesse says. “They say it’s easy.” Perhaps the greatest gift of all, though, has been the confidence and credibility Jesse now has to take control of her payroll process.

“I can’t tell you the number of times that someone has said, ‘Who runs your payroll?’ And I say, ‘Well, I run payroll.’” Jesse laughs. “And they’re like, ‘Oh gosh, are you sure you know what you’re doing?’ So I tell them, ‘Well, I have QuickBooks.’”

“What used to take me half a day now probably only takes me an hour, an hour and a half. Time is precious, and I think that QuickBooks Time and QuickBooks gave me more time.”

—Jesse McKinney, co-owner of Red Aspen

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‘We’ve got big plans’: A 2-year-old startup looks ahead

“I remember the very first day we pushed our website live, thinking, ‘Oh, my gosh, is anyone even going to buy anything? What’s going to happen?’ But lo and behold, the sales started coming in.”

Jesse says, now, her fears as a business owner are different. “I guess I always had this vision in my head. That when I started a company, at some point, we were going to stop and pop a bottle of champagne and celebrate our success.” But that point hasn’t come yet for Red Aspen. Instead, rapid growth keeps raising the bar.

“Whether it was our first million or our ten-millionth dollar, we’ve just looked at it and said, ‘We have to work harder.’ And instead of spending $10,000 on something, now we go spend $100,000 on something. Take it to a factor of 10. And so I don’t think that fear, at least for me, has gone away. It just changes.”

Fortunately, no matter how big her business gets, Jesse has a team at her side to lean on and learn from. And she’s got tools like QuickBooks Payroll and QuickBooks Time to lighten the load. Without the stress and burden that comes with managing daily tasks like payroll or time tracking, Jesse is free to refocus her efforts. And for her, those efforts are rooted in continued growth and success. “We’ve got big plans,” she says.

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